Agriculture Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:14 pm on 10th October 2018.

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Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Devolved Government Relations), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment and Rural Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 2:14 pm, 10th October 2018

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s intervention, although I do not really appreciate the snide remarks about Edinburgh North and Leith, because people there actually eat and they are interested in food.

Returning to my subject, which was food, there is plenty in the Bill to allow Ministers to gather information about food chains and to interfere where they see fit, but nothing about how it will change the structures or the framework around producing food or how Ministers might want to protect, improve and increase food production, food security or food quality. We really need to know a bit about the direction of travel. There is nothing in the Bill that tells us, and the public pronouncements of the DEFRA Secretary suggest a move away from support for food production—or farming, as I like to call it—towards a style of support that would be perfect for managers of large estates, but not those with less land. Grouse moors could benefit, but farmers will not.

None of that detail is in the Bill. There is nothing even to suggest a route map, far less lay out the steps that the Government intend to take. There is nothing about the proposed support mechanism. That is massively important. A farm in Cambridgeshire is very unlike a farm in the Yorkshire dales and even more unlike a farm in Sutherland, where my parents-in-law live, let alone one on Scotland’s islands. Promises were made to Scottish farmers that Brexit would not see them losing cash, at the same time as convergence cash intended for farms in Scotland was being distributed elsewhere, as my hon. Friend Alan Brown mentioned.